ELEVATE YOUR COOKING WITH MATERIAL KITCHEN
A good set of kitchen supplies can make or break your cooking experience.
Most of us invest in durable kitchen staples like ovens, cast iron skillets and non toxic cookware sets. These big ticket items make it easier to create restaurant-quality meals from the comfort of your own kitchen – especially when paired with high-quality cooking utensils.
Material Kitchen is a direct-to-consumer brand that created a new category of tastefully designed and affordable kitchenware for the modern home cook called Fundamentals. This seven-piece kitchenware set is simple, elegant and designed with world-class materials that marry form and function.
We sat down with Eunice Byun, the Co-founder and CEO of Material Kitchen, to talk about Fundamentals and why it’s so important to invest in quality kitchen utensils that will help elevate your kitchen and making cooking more special.
What inspired you to start Material?
Dave and I met over eleven years ago in NYC and quickly bonded over our love for food. We tried out new restaurants together and texted each other about good spots when exploring on our own. We both continued on our own career paths until the summer of 2016. Dave was working at Chanel and I had just had my daughter, Hadley. Dave’s brother is a professionally trained chef, and was living with Dave at the time. As many chefs do, Dave’s brother had a ton of knives and kitchenware tools that he had invested a lot of money in. Dave thought that spending $300 on a good chef’s knife seemed outrageous.
Meanwhile, I was standing in a kitchen that I used to love to cook in that was now overtaken by bottles and baby food containers, overwhelmed by the addition of more stuff in a kitchen that was already bursting at the seams. The thought of cooking anything in that war zone sent me into a state of panic.
One summer night, Dave and I met up to catch up at Russ and Daughters. We started talking about Dave’s observation that kitchenware was so uninspired and so expensive. I started talking about how all I wanted in life was a kitchen that wasn’t stress-inducing – I just wanted to enjoy cooking again. Over plates of smoked salmon and whitefish salad, Material came to be.
We believe that today’s modern cook loves the experience of cooking and the social aspects of entertaining, but doesn’t have the space or budget to afford all that is marketed to them. Material is about practicality and intentionality, but not at the expense of design or beauty. We wanted to create something that didn’t look like anything else – that pushed kitchenware out of this conundrum that existed where most of the good-looking stuff is super expensive, and most of the affordable stuff isn’t so good-looking. We wanted to create products that made you feel good when you held them in your hands, and a brand that wasn’t just talking about “cutting out the middleman” but a brand that wants to connect people more deeply to their kitchens and their tools and other people that love cooking like they do. We want to create that space for meaningful moments in our kitchens.
Material is all about minimalism. Why is that essential in the kitchen?
We really wanted to capture the idea that “Everything in your kitchen has its place.” Everything has a reason to exist. No clutter, no extra decoration, no unnecessary noise. Everything is deliberate…so that you are free to create.
We also wanted to capture the warmth and beauty that is inherent in the kitchen that seemed to get lost online when you were shopping for kitchenware. That moment when the sun is starting to set, maybe had a crazy day at work and you’re settling into cook something because it’s that momentary pause you’re giving yourself to create something…to control your space for maybe an hour. It may not be a fancy meal for one…it might be something as simple as frying an egg for dinner…but that moment is yours. So we try and marry the simplicity of we’re creating for your kitchen with the joy and the warmth that comes from being in the kitchen.
Can you tell us more about Fundamentals. Why did you make this set? What types of materials did you use?
We did a lot of talking and listening. We reached out to family and friends – some that were professionally trained chefs to some that were just getting started in the kitchen. We spent some time with people in the food industry and the kitchenware industry. We poured through a number of cookbooks that we loved to see what they recommended. We wanted to hear what people couldn’t live without in the kitchens – and what makes buying kitchenware overwhelming. What we heard time and time again was that people wanted more guidance in the tools that they actually needed in their kitchens instead of the massive 22-piece kitchenware sets that include avocado slicers and pizza cutters. We then broke it down into what do most people need to prep their meals and how do we design products that can meet most of their day-to-day needs. We heard a lot of people say that while they thought they needed their 12-piece knife set which they spent hundreds of dollars on, they only really used two or three of their knives. So we took that input and designed The 8” Knife and The Almost 4” knife, our take on the chef and paring knives that will satisfy most people in their home kitchens.
Which piece in the Fundamentals set is your favorite?
It’s a bit like asking which of my kids is my favorite! I love our knives because they’re not only beautiful, but they’re super sharp and have the perfect weight and balance to them. But, my go-to is The Only Tongs. The way that they open and close with only one hand, thanks to our hidden locking mechanism, somehow makes me feel like I’m a better cook! I can move more seamlessly since I don’t have to keep putting whatever else I’m doing down to lock my tongs.
How do you use, clean and look after Fundamentals?
We recommend our knives are hand washed, mainly so that the edges of the knives don’t get banged up in the dishwasher. Everything else, with the exception of The Wood Spoon, can go straight into the dishwasher. We recommend oiling your wooden products when they could use a bit of extra TLC, as they’ll develop a gorgeous hand feel and patina over time. We also offer a lifetime guarantee, so you will be set for a long, long time!
Who is Fundamentals made for?
The premise of The Fundamentals is that it is a great foundation for any type of home cook. The quality and design features impress avid cooks, and the simplicity and aesthetics catch the eyes of aspiring cooks. We have had many people buy for smaller spaces, as well as for larger kitchens. It has also been gifted many, many times for new homes, graduation, weddings, new moves and birthday.
Why is it important to invest in kitchen utensils?
High-quality, long-lasting tools are essential in the kitchen. Nothing is sadder than a melted spatula or dull knife when cooking! Our goal is to help people find joy in the tools they use every day, for every meal. The best way we can achieve that is by creating things that feel and look great, and perform well.
Are there any other kitchen products you hope to launch in the future?
We are always thinking about other items in the kitchen that are constantly reached for that, but that have not been re-imagined recently, whether in its design or function. So keep an eye out for what’s coming next for us by signing up for our emails or following us on Instagram (@materialkitchen)!
No matter if you’re a professional chef or a first-time home cook, Fundamentals includes everything you need to put your favorite dish together.
Learn more about Material Kitchen at www.materialkitchen.com, and stop by Batch to shop the Fundamentals set in person.